Disclaimer: There will be spoilers for a couple of comedy films in the following article. Also, as some of these films are comedies from the 20th century, they don’t exactly age well. I have put content warnings in front of each movie, just in case you’d like to watch some of them yourself.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 25%
Content Warning: This movie employs a lot of stereotypes about Africa. Also, the movie’s villain is defeated not by Ace himself but by an amorous female gorilla in a very not-cool way.
Last week, I wrote about “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” and criticized it for its transphobic and homophobic storyline. And honestly, I just didn’t think it was very funny. The best jokes were at the expense of other people, and I found Ace unexpectedly mean-spirited.
So trust me when I get the irony of thinking that the sequel is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. I first watched this movie when I was in single digits, and I scream-laughed through its entire runtime. I’ve always been a fan of Jim Carrey, in both his serious and comedic roles (he’s phenomenal in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind“). I think he’s an impressive actor with a wide range, and his knack for physical comedy is nearly unmatched, especially in this film.
I did a little digging and discovered “Pet Detective” and “When Nature Calls” were written and directed by different people. The first Ace Ventura was written and directed by Tom Shadyac (with the help of Jack Bernstein and Jim Carrey). In contrast, the second film was written and directed by Steve Oedekerk. So even though the Ace character is the same, the tone of the films is different, which I think works in favor of the second film.
In “Pet Detective,” Ace is funny and a little goofy, but like I said, it often felt at the expense of other people. In contrast, “When Nature Calls” struck a perfect balance. It managed to make Ace both heroic and a constant object of ridicule. In one scene, he would fiercely defend the rights of animals, and then in the next, he’d be eating a bowl of bat poop (Or “guano” for the pedants). He still fired off witty one-liners, but the sting was directed inwards, encouraging you to laugh with and at him. I have too many favorite moments to list. Still, the scene where Ace tries to enter the bat caves, only to be overcome with irrational fear at the very creatures he has sworn to protect, was both gut-wrenchingly hilarious and painfully relatable.
I don’t plan to rewatch the first film anytime soon, but “When Nature Calls” will always be one of my favorites.
Stuck on You (2003)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 61%
Content Warning: I didn’t object too much to the content in this movie, but someone else might. The Farrelly Brothers are pretty well-known for blunt, crass humor with the occasional sexist joke, and I don’t think “Stuck on You” is much of an exception.
Greg Kinnear and Matt Damon star as conjoined twins who couldn’t be more different. Damon plays Bob, who is shy, quiet, and athletic. In contrast, Greg Kinnear’s Walt is adventurous, extroverted, and yearns to become an actor. The two brothers travel to LA to follow Walt’s dreams, and through a weird series of events, manage to become famous actors. Well, at least Walt does, while Bob is always carefully hidden out-of-frame. All Bob wants is to meet his pen pal, May Fong, the beautiful girl of his dreams. Except she doesn’t know that he’s a conjoined twin.
There’s a question that is asked to all conjoined twins: can the two be safely separated? Rarely is the question asked, “Will the two be happier separated?” Although Bob and Walt can be surgically separated and choose to move forward with the risky surgery, they struggle with the consequences of their decision.
It would have been easy for the Farrelly Brothers to write a film about conjoined twins who blunder naively through life as the butt of cruel jokes, but that’s not what this film is about. If anything, “Stuck on You” is about love. It is about how even though something – like living with a conjoined twin – may seem bizarre, that thing that makes you different also makes you better. Bob and Walt are brothers with diverse interests, but they love and support each other. They’re confident and secure, and that steadiness is only threatened when the two aren’t together. “Stuck on You” is surprisingly sweet and thoughtful. It’s hard not to root for Bob and Walt, two regular guys who happen to be conjoined, and when you finish watching the movie, you may find yourself wishing for that same closeness they share.
Cher also wrote one of her best songs for the movie and “Human” is so underrated it makes me cry.
Son in Law (1993)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 21%
Content Warning: General 90’s movie stupidity, mostly in the form of the youngest brother saying inappropriate shit about women.
“Son in Law” is a Pauly Shore vehicle, but we aren’t introduced to his character until almost ten minutes into the film. The movie spends those first few minutes developing the Warner family and establishing Becca, played by Carla Gugino, as the protagonist. Becca has spent her entire life in the safe cocoon of her small South Dakota farm town, and so when she movies to Los Angeles for college, she’s completely overwhelmed by the cultural differences. Becca’s a fish out of water, and she’s miserable and lonely until she meets Crawl, the RA, played by Pauly Shore, who takes her under his wing.
Carla Gugino is one of my favorite actresses. I think she’s incredibly underrated, as she has great chemistry with her other costars and manages to both complement and elevate their performances. She always blends in effortlessly with her environment and castmates, and “Son in Law” is no exception. Gugino carries the first act of this film, perfectly conveying Becca’s enthusiasm for her future, then crushing loneliness, before she gradually acclimates to her surroundings. Then, once she embraces the weirdness of LA, she’s able to fully come into herself and grow as a person. It’s an inspiring and hopeful message to anyone who moves to a new place and struggles to fit in. It says a lot about how just one good friend can make a difference in your life. In this situation, that friend just happens to be Crawl the wacky RA.
Although Crawl and Becca couldn’t seem more different, they form a warm, genuine friendship. Then it’s Crawl’s turn to be the one out of place when Becca invites him to spend Thanksgiving week with her family. At first, the Warner’s despise him, but Crawl’s enthusiasm and sincerity gradually win them over. Through his unorthodox methods and easy-going sociability, Crawl brings out the best in each Warner and makes himself part of the family.
“Son in Law” is a film that ages well because it’s about a person who disrupts the status quo but improves the lives of everyone else along the way. Sure, Crawl is eccentric and often inappropriate, but he is also sweet, considerate, and empathetic. He cares about other people’s feelings, goes with the flow, and tries to help out. I don’t blame the Warner’s for not liking him at first – after all, he is a hard-partying weirdo. Still, because the film took the time to develop the Warner family, it’s all the more satisfying to watch them come around to him. It says to us, “If this stodgy South Dakota family can accept a badly-dressed surfer dude into their home, maybe there’s a little hope for the rest of the world.”
The Golden Child (1986)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 22%
Content Warning: I am far from an expert on Tibetan culture, but I doubt this movie does the best job representing it.
Eddie Murphy is so damn cool. He walks into each scene and cracks joke after joke, dominating the scene. Every other character in this movie acts as though they’re in an epic fantasy drama in which the fate of the world hangs in the balance, except for Murphy, who doesn’t seem to care that he’s in the movie at all. He ridicules every character, prop, and scene he comes across, and somehow it’s one of his best performances. I think the value of his performance is best expressed by Seanbaby, a Cracked writer, in this article from 2010:
“No movie has ever been rescued harder than Eddie Murphy rescued The Golden Child. It’s the story of The Chosen One entering a secret world of Tibetan mysticism to rescue a magic boy (played by a girl). The Golden Child script is so simple and racist that its daughter married a black man just to piss it off. Obese people make up better stories when their doctor asks them what they’ve been eating. The special effects are embarrassing enough to make modeling clay suicidal, and there are more clever plot twists on a dildo’s storage instructions. The Golden Child is more disrespectful to Tibet than the People’s Liberation Army of China.”Seanbaby, “The 10 Most Irreplaceable Performances in Comedy Films“
OOF. I don’t agree with everything this guy said, but this is one hell of a description and one ringing endorsement for Eddie Murphy’s performance. In all transparency, it’s been a few years since I’ve watched “The Golden Child,” so my review is based on older memories of the film. And what I remember most is laughing at everything Eddie Murphy did. Also, I remember that scene where the Golden Child turns the Pepsi can into a little man and makes it dance to “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”
“The Golden Child” is an exciting adventure film that features one of Eddie Murphy’s best, funniest performances. It definitely has a few weird moments, and it hasn’t aged as well as other films from the 1980s, but it is a classic. My advice is to watch “The Golden Child” if you’re in the mood to see Murphy show off and be cooler than everyone else in the room.
Kung Pow! Enter the Fist (2002)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 13%
Content Warning: This movie is a stupid early 2000’s comedy, so anticipate the occasional sexist joke, toilet humor, and stereotype.
When “Kung Pow! Enter the First” was first released, my dad took me to see it in theatres. I suppose we were lured in by the brilliant trailer featuring a Matrix-style fight scene between a grown man and a lactating cow. However, the first time I ever watched this movie, surrounded by a crowd of people, was an experience. The theatre roared with laughter. From the film’s first moments to the last scene, the audience never stopped laughing. Every joke landed. I have never been to a movie with that kind of audience response, and I wish the critics who trashed this film had the opportunity to experience it the way I did.
The plot is simple enough: The Chosen One (played by Steve Oedekerk, the same guy who wrote the better Ace Ventura movie) is on a journey to find the man who killed his family. Along the way, he encounters a couple of rivals, some bad guys, and evil French aliens. The movie is non-stop ridiculous fun. Every scene, every moment of this film, is crammed with jokes like a comedy turducken.
This film’s secret strength lies in Oedekerk, who didn’t half-ass his work. Although it’s easy to write off “Kung Pow” as a dumb comedy, any discerning viewer can tell that this film was a monument of creativity. Most of the footage is from the 1970’s film “Tiger & Crane Fists,” which has been repurposed to make a new story. Oedekerk was not the first filmmaker to try redubbing dialogue over footage (I think that honor goes to that human colostomy bag, Woody Allen), but he employed it to masterful effect. The film is reminiscent of other poorly-dubbed martial arts films but is surprisingly well-made, as many of the actors were inserted post-production via chroma key and digital compositing. The result is Oedekerk and a lady with one boob blending in seamlessly with their surroundings.
I probably wouldn’t show “Kung Pow! Enter the Fist” at the Sundance Film Festival, but that’s their loss. I could not disagree more with the critical consensus. I think Steve Oedekerk achieved exactly what he envisioned with this movie. Twenty years later, “Kung Pow! Enter the Fist” remains one of the funniest “gnodab” movies ever made.
Bonus Movie: They Came Together (2014)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 70%
This movie is technically good, so I didn’t want to include it on the list, but I will relent as not enough people have watched it. Please consider “They Came Together” as a cheeky little bonus. Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler star in this ridiculous parody of “You’ve Got Mail” (and many other stupid romantic comedies). First, the two hate each other, and then they love each other, break up, and eventually get back together.
Is the script amazing? No, it’s not. It’s a deliberate rip-off of other successful romantic comedies that purposefully skews romantic tropes. However, this script put in the hands of Rudd, Poehler, and a bunch of other comedians, is comedy gold. “They Came Together” is a film for people who love and hate romantic comedies. I’d highly recommend it for your next anti-Valentine’s Day party (though I don’t know anyone who would throw that kind of party).
EXTRA BONUS MOVIE: The Master of Disguises (2002)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 1%
Content Warning: This movie really loves ethnic stereotypes and even has an instance of “brownface.” It is a bad movie.
No, I don’t love this movie. In fact, I fell asleep part-way through it, and when given the option to go back and watch the ending, I decided to save some time and look up the summary on Wikipedia. But, up until this weekend, I had never seen this movie (my parents refused to take me when it was first released, probably because they knew it would suck). So my friend bravely took it upon herself to make sure I watched it so that my list of stupid movies would be a little more complete. I am grateful to her for sacrificing her time, and I think my life is a little richer for having watched 60-ish minutes of “The Master of Disguises.”
To clarify, I do not think this movie is good or even all that funny, but I now know that other people love it. So for that reason alone, I wanted to give it a shout-out. Also, despite myself, I did laugh when Dana Carvey‘s character managed to soothe a cobra with the power of smooth jazz. Then I laughed again when it gave him kisses and “jumped” for the slice of kraft American cheese.
Don’t worry; I’m just as disappointed in myself for this reaction.
Do you like any bad movies? Drop the name in the comments and maybe I’ve seen it!